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Statistical Errors Keep 4700 K-3rd Students From NYC 'Gifted' Programs 215

Posted by timothy
from the more-than-a-little-oopsie dept.
alostpacket writes "The New York times reports that statistical scoring by the standardized testing company Pearson incorrectly disqualified over 4700 students from a chance to enter gifted / advanced programs in New York City schools. Only students who score in the 90th percentile or above are eligible for these programs. Those in the 97th or above are eligible for 5 of the best programs. 'According to Pearson, three mistakes were made. Students' ages, which are used to calculate their percentile ranking against students of similar age, were recorded in years and months, but should also have counted days to be precise. Incorrect scoring tables were used. And the formula used to combine the two test parts into one percentile ranking contained an error.' No mention of enlisting the help of the gifted children was made in the Times article, but it also contained a now-corrected error. This submission likely also contains an erro"
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Statistical Errors Keep 4700 K-3rd Students From NYC 'Gifted' Programs

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  • by MightyYar (622222) on Saturday April 20, 2013 @08:32AM (#43502973)

    All this "precision" to test against an arbitrary "90th" and "97th" percentile.

    • by dwhitaker (1500855) on Saturday April 20, 2013 @08:43AM (#43503003) Homepage
      It may be arbitrary, but it is still a somewhat socially-accepted metric. I suspect that many people would agree that the top 10% (or 3%) of students by whatever accepted measure qualify for "gifted".
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        In the meantime, the truly gifted are hitting the library, doing their own thing, and pretty much don't need no stinking program.

        -see life of Linus Pauling, Einstein. etc ...

        • by tepples (727027) <tepples&gmail,com> on Saturday April 20, 2013 @09:21AM (#43503155) Homepage Journal

          In the meantime, the truly gifted are hitting the library, doing their own thing, and pretty much don't need no stinking program.

          In the pre-World War II era when Linus Pauling and Albert Einstein grew up, it was believed acceptably safe for a child to walk the streets unaccompanied [tvtropes.org]. Nowadays kids are kept indoors over public hysteria over "stranger danger" and over poorly laid out, cul-de-sac-heavy street hierarchies [wikipedia.org] that discourage getting from one place to another in anything but a passenger vehicle.

        • by firex726 (1188453) <firex726@@@yahoo...com> on Saturday April 20, 2013 @09:23AM (#43503157)

          While I agree with your premise, I can't say I agree on the examples.
          The education has undergone a lot of changes since 1910, when Linus was in it.

        • by ShanghaiBill (739463) * on Saturday April 20, 2013 @12:18PM (#43504125)

          In the meantime, the truly gifted are hitting the library, doing their own thing, and pretty much don't need no stinking program.

          -see life of Linus Pauling, Einstein. etc ...

          The "truly gifted" are also wasting a lot of time in "normal" classrooms. This is the 21st century. We should be using technology to customize education for each child, and let them learn at an optimal pace. This is easiest for subjects like math, and my son's school uses Khan Academy [khanacademy.org] and IXL [ixl.com] to make much of the math self-paced. They also let the kids pick their own books to read using AR Bookfind [arbookfind.com]. My son has read over a hundred books this year, and has yet to find a book that isn't in their system.

          Both of my kids qualified for California's GATE (Gifted and Talented Education) Program [ca.gov]. But it seems to me that it could be expanded to include a lot more kids, because the parents do a lot of the grunt work. So if you double the number of kids, you are also doubling the number of parents. The school just needs to provide a framework. I take an afternoon off work each week to work with these kids and I love every minute of it. Some of these kids are amazingly bright. Last week I showed a fourth grader how to do a cross product of two vectors, and she "got it" in less than a minute. I walked away thinking "this kid is going to change the world someday." She also laughed when I told her a "math joke":

          Q: What do you get when you cross a tsetse fly with a mountain climber?
          A: Nothing. You can't cross a vector with a scaler.

          • by qwak23 (1862090)

            I like that one.

            My favorite lately has been:

            Q: What did the Mathematician say when he saw his new office?
            A: It's affine space.

            I got put in and taken out of a couple gifted and talented programs in elementary school (multiple programs due to switching schools). These programs were more or less a joke from what I remember, I didn't necessarily think so at the time because I was age 6-9, but we were never really challenged to do anything, it was really just like an additional free period to do whatever. I re

            • I remember a lot of coloring. The program you describe above sounds much better.

              We don't do any coloring. A lot of it is self paced computer work, or online research for older kids. But we try to include some gross stuff too, like making slime or training worms to respond to stimuli. Last month someone brought in a sack of cow eyeballs and the kids dissected them. That was educational even for me, since I had never seen the inside of an eyeball before.

              I should point out that this is an after school program. These kids are in normal classes during the regular school day.

              • by qwak23 (1862090)

                We never had an after school one. Just a period set aside during the normal school day for the G+T kids to sit in the same room together. Granted occasionally there was some substance outside of coloring, but it often felt it was a just a free period to relax with little direction (and very few resources to do any additional learning). After elementary school kids were divided up into grade level and advanced courses and high school had some interesting electives, but those were optional and anyone could

          • The gifted program I was in (Canada, Ontario, etc.) was very helpful and helped challenge me in ways I simply wasn't in a normal classroom until highschool.

            We studied some law, photography, computers, logic, society, politics, art and a number of other subjects, often at something akin to at least highschool level starting in grade 4 over and above our normal school work.

            I think the lessons we learned about social issues that gifted students have in a classroom were some of the most important though -- prob

        • Pauling yes, Einstein no.

          Einstein's family were able to introduce him to talented mentors when he was young, and most of the schools he attended recognised and encouraged his genius. For example, when he failed the entrance exam for the Swiss Polytechnic, their principal sponsored his entrance to an advanced school to finish his secondary education, where he lived with the family of one of his professors. The only struggle he seemed to have was getting a teaching position for two years after graduation from

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Charliemopps (1157495)

        No, it's fucking retarded at its face. So we find the children that need the LEAST amount of help, and give them the most help. Then we take the kids in the most trouble and flunk them out, punish them, hold them back a grade. The entire premise is idiotic. In this country we have trouble getting normal children the basic skills they need. Last I checked, our gifted students were doing ok. So lets start focusing on the kids that need it, and let the ones that gifted ones be gifted on their own.

        • by Aranykai (1053846) <slgonserNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Saturday April 20, 2013 @10:17AM (#43503377)

          You have it backwards. You find the kids with the most amount of potential and give them a greater opportunity. That being said, I was a 'gifted student' throughout school(class of 04 for what its worth) and I don't recall any 'help' or special tutoring. Most of the time that status simply granted us access to advanced placement courses, taking higher math or english studies than you would normally have access to or sometimes special after-school opportunities.

          I hate to sound crass, but the problem with students that 'need help' in our education system is 80% the result of inept parenting at home(or lack there of) and has nothing to do with the schools. The other 20%? Well, not everyone excels at every task.

          • In an ideal world it would be an "all of the above" situation with getting kids help. Is your child struggling? Here's more, personal help. Is your child excelling? Here's some resources to help them achieve more. Is your child neither struggling nor excelling? Here's more help so that they don't struggle and can possibly excel.

            There will always be inequality in education, and there will always be finite resources that need allocation. As a society, we seem to have decided that we need amazing talented pe
            • by jelizondo (183861) *

              Just a pointer [pbs.org] to someone trying to quantify the gains due to interventions.

              I am not qualified to say if this approach is correct or not, but when I read I thought it was very interesting and such a shame on our society that kids, who could be happy and productive when adults, are left by the side of the road to rot.

          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            You have it backwards. You find the kids with the most amount of potential and give them a greater opportunity. That being said, I was a 'gifted student' throughout school(class of 04 for what its worth) and I don't recall any 'help' or special tutoring.

            I was considered gifted in elementary school and they taught me speed-reading and we played logic games. Pretty useful, I guess. They wouldn't let me do any of the cool stuff though and since I was a problem child they stopped involving me (though I was always well-behaved when associating with the GATE class) so it was in the end a fuckoff waste of time and money, to me. That's OK; the whole system is hypocritical. Public school is part of the lie that you can excel through hard work in today's system, and

            • by Sarius64 (880298)
              I find this repeated constantly throughout society. I was in a similar situation and kicked out of GATE for completing all of the modules available and then bouncing off the ceiling because I was unbearably bored. Instead of helping me, I was told to be quiet and just do my work, which I had already done. My reflection on this now makes me think that there were fundamental conflicts having women teachers that expected boys to simply accept social norms that women desire. The system is hypocritical. Impr
              • by drinkypoo (153816)

                I don't think it has anything to do with gender. The teacher who really put my off education was Mr. Knudsen in third grade. I spent a lot of time writing lines, or with my head down on my desk in that class. And I was big then, so it was uncomfortable then. I don't think whether a teacher is an asshole is at all related to their gender.

          • by Velex (120469)

            You're both wrong. I was "gifted" as well. All that status did was alienate me from my peers and increase the difficulty of classes. There is no "gifted" diploma; all you get is the same piece of paper everyone else got. All that being "gifted" did was make something that should have been a breeze for me so I could focus on things that are naturally difficult for me, social interaction, into constant stress.

            I pushed myself, took all kinds of AP classes, and for what? So I could have a lower GPA? No, b

        • by Slyfox696 (2432554) on Saturday April 20, 2013 @10:24AM (#43503411)

          No, it's fucking retarded at its face. So we find the children that need the LEAST amount of help, and give them the most help. Then we take the kids in the most trouble and flunk them out, punish them, hold them back a grade. The entire premise is idiotic. In this country we have trouble getting normal children the basic skills they need. Last I checked, our gifted students were doing ok. So lets start focusing on the kids that need it, and let the ones that gifted ones be gifted on their own.

          I'm sorry, but your opinion is silly. Why are you interested in making everyone mediocre? How about we push ALL kids, not just the ones at the bottom? Whether it's publicly acceptable to say or not, the fact is most of the kids at the bottom will never advance past subpar. They'll be the manual labor, the janitors, the cooks, etc. And there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with that, any person providing for their family is okay in my book.

          But the gifted children, they are the thinkers, they are the ones who will change the world. We need to be giving them every opportunity to succeed we can, and to hold them back simply because there are some kids who are not intelligent seems a completely backwards outlook on life. You're saying we should not provide assistance to the children who will change the world so we can instead focus on those who will work fairly unintellectual jobs. That makes no sense.

          • by bbelt16ag (744938)
            i think that's utter bull shit. given enough time and effort, even your own effort all knowledge comes. There is no reason to not teach these kids the fundamentals of how to learn and grow in this society. They do not have to be janitors or cooks unless they want to be. We can make freaking robots for that crap. They must have the basics so that they can learn on their own after school or their world will be very bleak indeed. I watched my own parents work day in and day out trying to make ends meat. By the
          • by anagama (611277) <obamaisaneocon@nothingchanged.org> on Saturday April 20, 2013 @11:26AM (#43503797) Homepage

            His opinion may be silly, but he isn't alone. I overheard two teachers saying the same thing, that the gifted kids take care of themselves and don't need any help.

            Of course that's often false. It is a common enough occurrence for some gifted kids to get really lazy because early on, they find it is easy to skate with minimal effort. Later in their education careers however, when subjects become inherently tougher, those skating work habits turn to failure. I have personal experience here.

            Secondly, relying on smart kids to take care of themselves is not a recipe for a well rounded education, it's a recipe for hyper focus on a single area that may or may not prove valuable to the student. In the college context, the point of a liberal arts education is to expose students to a wide range subjects because sometimes, very interesting things can happen when knowledge in different subject areas intersects. Ignoring smart kids might make sense for a diploma mill, but it doesn't make sense if the actual goal is help kids succeed by showing them where interesting (and potentially lucrative) intersections can be found.

          • by nbauman (624611) on Saturday April 20, 2013 @12:28PM (#43504189) Homepage Journal

            It's difficult or impossible to identify the kids who will make major contributions to society in middle school, for God's sake. Read the biographies of Nobel laureates. Many of them were fuck-ups in high school (and beyond).

            Assuming that Steve Jobs and Bill Gates contributed to society (or at least made a lot of money), neither of them showed much promise in high school.

            Most of the people who made significant contributions came from financially comfortable, and often wealthy, families. Try eliminating poverty and inequality, to the extent that most other developed countries have.

          • I generally agree except for the over-broad word "intelligent". Theres a difference between "doesnt do well in school" and "this person is unintelligent".

            One is clearly defined, the other is vague, poorly defined, and inaccurate. Someone may be really good at agriculture / farming, or wilderness survival, and do poorly in school; I would consider both to be forms of "intelligence".

            Let me know when we have a solid definition of "intelligence" and a solid test for it, till then probably good to drop descri

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Your kind of thinking is what's holding our students back. Letting the slowest kid in the class dictate the pace for everyone else only kills any kind of interest in education that the advanced student would have. Meanwhile the kid who isn't doing as well may be special needs and that should be determined. If the child isn't special needs you have to stop and wonder if they're simply lazy or if there is a deeper problem. In any case, what do we do with the lazy student who thinks that learning is for fools

        • by mwvdlee (775178) on Saturday April 20, 2013 @11:09AM (#43503687) Homepage

          Great idea; we should also implement this system for school sports programs.
          Kick all the talented kids out of the teams and replace them by the kids that perform worst.
          Last I checked, our talented athletes were doing ok, so lets start focussing on the kids that need it.

        • by bryan1945 (301828)

          I think you don't understand how this works. The great students get access to advanced classes. They don't need extra teachers or tutoring, i.e. "extra help." The underachieving students get extra teachers and tutors. At least that's how it is supposed to work, and how it works in my area. I'm not in NY, so I can't gauge the reality of it there.

        • by Shavano (2541114)

          Holding them back a grade, if we could remove the stigma, would be exactly what most of the "slow" kids need, because many of them are not really slow, they're younger than most of the kids in their classes. It would put them in classes with other kids who are closer to their level of ability and skill mastery. Instead, we hold back the whole curriculum so the "slow" (young) kids can keep up with the average.

          And there's no reason we can't educate each child according to his or her ability, with the poss

        • by nbauman (624611) on Saturday April 20, 2013 @12:18PM (#43504129) Homepage Journal

          FWIW, I was a "gifted" student in the 1950s (IQ 160). They brought me up to believe that I was part of an elite and everybody else was stupid. I now know that I was wrong. It's a fundamental mistake to write off the other 80% as being too stupid for a good education.

          We read Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, and obviously we were the alphas. The other kids are betas and gammas who just aren't as smart as us and a good education would be wasted on them. (This was a mirror of the British class structure, of course.)

          Yes, it's true that 80% of kids can't do well in the educational system, and yes, it's true that a problem is the parents. I draw 2 conclusions:

          (1) If you have a bad family background, school gives you a second chance. Not a school dedicated to getting high scores on machine-graded multiple-choice questions, but a school in which teachers act like human beings with feelings, and can relate to kids and support them, the way surrogate parents do.

          (2) Every study says that the main factor that correlates with school achievement is family income. Adequate housing, health care, and employment is necessary (if not sufficient) for raising kids. You can't read to your kids if you're working 2 low-paid jobs, morning to night. The U.S. has about the greatest inequality, and the most widespread poverty, of any developed country. We didn't use that science education to eliminate poverty, we used it to make millionaires into billionaires. The upper 1% owns 75% of the wealth. Let's distribute that wealth a little bit and eliminate the poverty.

          If you take those 80% and give them the advantages I had (father with a secure, well-paying union job, mother who didn't have to work), I think most of them would learn a lot. I think it would turn out that the percent of kids who can't learn wasn't 80% but much lower -- maybe 40%. Maybe 20%. Maybe less.

          We can look at countries like Finland, which has eliminated inequality and poverty as much as possible, to see what an egalitarian society is like. They seem to be doing pretty well.

          How much money should we spend on education? Well, if our society invests $1 in tax money in a kid, and we get $2 back in social benefits, we should invest as much money as we can with those returns. Any business would. If we went back to the levels of investment in public education we had in the 1960s and 1970s, I think we'd have the same high rates of economic development we had in that time.

          And you can get that return from kids in the top 20% and the bottom 80%.

          • by khallow (566160)

            How much money should we spend on education? Well, if our society invests $1 in tax money in a kid, and we get $2 back in social benefits, we should invest as much money as we can with those returns. Any business would. If we went back to the levels of investment in public education we had in the 1960s and 1970s, I think we'd have the same high rates of economic development we had in that time.

            What makes you think the US spends less per child on education now than then? The US is still one of the leaders in per capita spending [businessinsider.com]. As I understand it, if we went back to the spending of the 60s, we would be spending somewhat less at the K-12 level and about a factor of 3 or 4 less at the college level.

            I think what's happening here is that we aren't getting that $2 of return on $1 of educational spending. And I'm deeply cynical of any society-wide effort such as public education that glibly transfer

            • by nbauman (624611)

              I should have said public higher education. In the 1960s, the New York City University system was free (and it turned out many Nobel laureates and industry leaders like Andrew Grove), and the New York and California state university systems were practically free.

              The big increases in higher education spending seem to be in the private schools. New York University used to be a third-rate school for frat guys. Now it pulled up its standards and is one of the most expensive schools in the country. They spent a

          • With a 160 IQ you are elite. Go use your brain and enjoy that it works so well. The vast majority of people have a hard time processing raw data at the speed that you can.

            I was one of the dumbest kids in my gifted class with an IQ in the mid 130's and the one girl who's IQ was over 160 made me look as stupid as my regular classmates felt around me (in those situations that benefit from data processing and absorption rates). ... once upon a time, when my professor said he thought I was wrong about somethin

        • by Livius (318358)

          If your goal is to produce equal outcomes irrespective of ability, and dumb everyone down to the lowest common denominator, then yes, it's counter-productive.

          If your goal is to allocate educational resources for the greatest return on investment, then no.

          Both goals have merit, but you can't have both, only a trade-off between them.

        • GT courses are generally more difficult. Its not about "more help", its about "ok, the student is excelling at multiplication in 2nd grade, lets see if we can have him mastering Algebra by 6th".

          Try putting a student who is struggling with multiplication into that program. Maybe theyd take to it, most likely theyd just be frustrated.

          • GT courses are generally more difficult. Its not about "more help", its about "ok, the student is excelling at multiplication in 2nd grade, lets see if we can have him mastering Algebra by 6th".

            Wish we'd had that where I went to sixth grade...

            I had the poor man's version - teacher gave me her old algebra 1 textbook, told me to go sit out in the hall, and learn what I could....

            • by qwak23 (1862090)

              I had a really good math teacher in sixth grade, I don't remember how well she knew the topics and how well she presented it, but she did one awesome thing. I had been moved out of the advanced track due to my lack of desire to do homework (it wasn't challenging, bored the crap out of me and I still aced the tests). This teacher recognizing that some students had the ability but couldn't be in that track for whatever reason gave students opportunities to learn more advanced stuff. before each new topic,

        • The fact that you consider holding somebody back a grade because they did not show sufficient competency to pass a punishment shows me that you understand as much about education as our most respected and best paid experts in the field do.

          That is to say, absolutely none.
        • No, it's fucking retarded at its face. So we find the children that need the LEAST amount of help, and give them the most help.

          No we determine the learning potential for the student and resource and tailor experiences so that students have the best opportunity to reach their learning ceiling. It's something done in sports all the time. You don't give professional training to the slowest kid in the class because all you get is mediocrity. You also don't completely ignore the slow kid and just focus on the future professional, because you alienate the child and the sport dies. In sports (essentially physical education) there is a

        • Its great to see how little you know about what gifted programs try to offer and the problems that high IQ students face in the classroom.

      • by pla (258480)
        It may be arbitrary, but it is still a somewhat socially-accepted metric. I suspect that many people would agree that the top 10% (or 3%) of students by whatever accepted measure qualify for "gifted".

        Socially accepted or not, it still counts as completely arbitrary to say that 33000 kids get in to the "good" schools, but #33001 (NYC has 1.1M public school students) gets to attend one of the standard prison-camp style facilities.

        Now, for the kids right at the edge, of course they care - But on a larger
      • by Prof.Phreak (584152) on Saturday April 20, 2013 @10:45AM (#43503499) Homepage

        All this implies that there are 4700 empty seats in those gifted schools. There aren't. Very likely other folks with 96.98 percentile got in due to their b-days falling out onto the same month as someone a week younger and same exact grade on the same exact exam. In other words, by most measures, the folks in these schools are "just as" gifted as the folks who missed out due to the error (bad luck).

      • Well the first grade class might start a war with the top 1% of them, and you know how that turns out.

    • by pla (258480)
      All this "precision" to test against an arbitrary "90th" and "97th" percentile.

      This.

      When having aged one more day than someone else who got the same score means not making the cut, well, welcome to life, unfairness and all. The sooner kids learn that, the better.

      Now, parents - If you really believe your little nose-picking demon can do better in the "right" environment, I can give you far, far better advice than suing the school system over fractions of a point on an admissions test: Move to suburb
      • by nbauman (624611)

        Move to suburbia. Even if the kid still doesn't make the cut for the gifted program, he'll receive a far higher quality education than he would in even the best of urban schools.

        Complete bullshit. Just to pick a name that everybody knows, Bronx High School of Science is as good as, and maybe better than, any suburban schools, by any standard. There are some very good high schools in New York City, and every upscale parent knows which ones they are.

        You're ignoring the fact that suburbs are expensive, and they self-select for wealthy families. That's often the reason people move to the suburbs.

        • by Zak3056 (69287)

          Move to suburbia. Even if the kid still doesn't make the cut for the gifted program, he'll receive a far higher quality education than he would in even the best of urban schools.

          Complete bullshit. Just to pick a name that everybody knows, Bronx High School of Science is as good as, and maybe better than, any suburban schools, by any standard. There are some very good high schools in New York City, and every upscale parent knows which ones they are.

          You're ignoring the fact that suburbs are expensive, and they self-select for wealthy families. That's often the reason people move to the suburbs.

          Speaking as someone who went to Brooklyn Tech, I have a high respect for Bronx Science and find your description of it as "as good as, maybe better than any suburban school," to border on insulting. The specialized schools in NYC are some of the best in the country, hands down. That said, this in no way invalidates the point the GP was making--that suburban schools are, typically, of higher quality than large city schools. Brooklyn Tech, Bronx Science, and Stuyvesant are places where the entire school is

    • by Shavano (2541114)

      Did the test identify 3% of students as above the 97th percentile and 10% of students above the 90th percentile? If, so, then it did its job.

      Age has to counted to the DAY? At 5 years old (age for entering kindergarten), you're still slicing those hairs thin (1.66%) at one month resolution. Age to the day would be .055%. What's the resolution of the test? The only advantage of computing age to the day is it's easier than rounding or truncating to get age to the month. Also, what grade has to be conside

    • by wvmarle (1070040)

      And then 4,700 students missed out of that 10% of the top (at least that's how I read it).

      Makes me wonder: how many "K-3rd" students are there in NYC? And how many did get in? Obviously most students must have gotten in or there would have been more of an outcry, and the errors listed seem to be very marginal (e.g. age recorded in months, not days). So this 4,700 can't be more than 5% of that top 10%. Which means there should be about a million students in that age group in NYC, if not more. Is that reasona

    • Not just that, but once you are in the system, you're on a lifelong track. So if you are in the 90th percentile at age 6, it's very difficult to break into the system if you're a late bloomer and are in the 97th percentile at age 10.
    • Up here the metric is top 2% (the same as for Mensa) and its a very widely accepted system for helping students with what amounts to a learning disability. Its not easy for a student who finds everything ridiculously obvious and boring to learn how to focus, study or learn designated material in the long haul.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 20, 2013 @08:34AM (#43502975)

    They might as well file for bankruptcy. Their is no wrath like the wrath of a parent who thinks their child is gifted and talented.

  • by dwhitaker (1500855) on Saturday April 20, 2013 @08:37AM (#43502993) Homepage
    I'm sure that a debate will emerge in the ensuing contents about the pros and cons of relying on standardized assessments as heavily as we do. From the summary, though, it seems as if the problem was not with the assessment, but rather the ancillary aspects of assessing. This doesn't excuse the mistakes, but it also isn't a compelling argument for abolishing standardized tests.

    For what it's worth, Pearson is a for-profit educational publisher and assessment creator, but there are other assessment creators out there that are non-profit (e.g. ETS, the makers of the GRE). The entire assessment process is hard, and maintaining high-quality throughout is even harder.
    • by bryan1945 (301828)

      If you had 5 students, you could test each of them closely to see their skills. 50 students, you can still look into individuals' skills. At 500, you may be able to have some customization. 5000, I doubt it. 50000, no way.
      And that's assuming you think it's fair to make personalized tests. If Bob is good at math and Beth is good at English, do you cater or counter-cater to their strengths? Like you said, assessment is hard beyond a single individual.

  • Age (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hedwards (940851) on Saturday April 20, 2013 @08:48AM (#43503017)

    Why are we measuring age with regards to giftedness? The age at which students are permitted to enroll in classes does not permit students born in September to enroll early, but if you are born in August you get to enroll, then when it comes to the standardized tests students who were permitted early entry get a lower bar with regards to entrance.

    Since things are in flux to the point where a few days make a difference, wouldn't it make more sense to wait until there's some validity to the testing being done? As far as I know there's no validity to the notion that early testing leads to the right decisions being made. Some folks just develop early, but don't hit a particularly high mark, and some take longer to develop and ultimately to a higher level.

    I remember when I was a kid getting screwed over because of my age, if a couple of months are that significant, then the testing shouldn't be done.

    • by nblender (741424)

      A prognosis of 'gifted' is not to be confused with 'developing early'... Sure, my 'gifted' son appeared to develop early but his brain works differently and that is what is being assessed... His reading/writing/arithmetic was tested for sure, but those results are only a small part of the overall scoring... He was 99th percentile for reading/writing/comprehension but tested low for working memory and processing speed... A non-gifted individual will do better than my son at discovering a pattern in a long se

      • by hedwards (940851)

        That's more or less my point. At the K-3 level there's very little that can be said usefully for future development.

        I don't really get why we're still evaluating students at such an early age for giftedness when it doesn't become reliable until later on. Evaluate for learning disorders as soon as you can, sure, but separating out the gifted students before you really know who is and isn't causes all sorts of problems. And age really shouldn't be a factor, if it matters which month you're born in, that shoul

    • Keep in mind that if we're talking about Kindergartners that "a couple of months" is a significant amount of time, and at this age brain development is almost exactly a function of age. They're only 60-70 months old. It shouldn't be surprising that those that are 70 months old do better than those who are only 60. They've been alive 20% longer! Certainly, there are outliers, but they're going to score exceptionally either way (good or bad). Additionally, knowing the age of your subjects allows for basi

      • by hedwards (940851)

        I don't buy that. The problem is that you don't receive additional instruction for being a couple months older and this isn't supposed to be a test of how well you were prepared by your parents prior to going to school. What's more, at that age it's difficult to differentiate between being developmentally advanced for the age and having a more durable level of talent.

        Bottom line the decisions should be put off a few years until the difference of a few days or a few months is a bit less meaningful. Choosing

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      A year is a huge amount of time for a child's development. In the UK we keep talking about splitting the school year into two groups six months apart because kids born in August are at a big disadvantage.

      • by mwvdlee (775178)

        Just a few months can be significant; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relative_age_effect [wikipedia.org]
        Basically, if you want to give you kid the best chance in live for sports, aim for a january birth.
        Want to give it the best chance academically, aim for september.
        Best to aim for an additional month in order to avoid the potentially disasterous effects of an early birth.

      • by Richy_T (111409)

        I disagree. Schooling has become so geared to the lowest common denominator that most of any issues due to age will be masked. I was an August child and typically came top in science and maths (except when I got too lazy due to the work being easy).

    • Wise people forget about all the gifted/non-gifted/school nonsense and educate themselves. There is no other way, really.
  • Irony (Score:5, Insightful)

    by phoomp (1098855) on Saturday April 20, 2013 @08:57AM (#43503053)
    Anyone else find some irony in the fact that the people deciding which kids qualify for advanced education programs couldn't get their math right?
    • > Even before the error, theÂnumber of students qualifying
      >Âfor gifted seats â" 9,020 â" was far higher than the number
      > of seats.

      It doesn't make a difference -- this is the real stupidity. It's long since been shown society would get much more bang for its buck devoting just a fraction of the money it spends making sure every last yokel can count to ten to accelerated education for people who actually invent stuff.

      But those yokels, as adults, are amenable to claims that that i

    • by Livius (318358)

      Irony, yes. Surprise, no.

  • by nblender (741424) on Saturday April 20, 2013 @09:01AM (#43503073)

    My son was having trouble in his neighborhood school. The teachers/principal told us there was something wrong, likely ADHD or Aspergers... Broke our heart to be told this in a 5 minute 'parent teacher interview'... Anyway, after a psych-ed assessment, it turned out he just needed a gifted program possibly with some mild ADHD... The neighborhood school told us "Great! We'll just give him harder work. That'll keep him busy." but they already weren't dealing with his bullies, just brushing it off, and as we learned more about the gifted affliction, we understood that 'more and harder work' is not what he needed. He needed to be taught how his brain worked, how his brain was wired to learn in order to be successful as an adult... This is something that neither I nor his mother had when we were kids...

    Anyway, the school board has a gifted program but they want _only_ gifted children and since his psych-ed report used the evil "ADHD" term, they rejected him... We found another school here (a Charter school, not private, still publicly funded, but more like an R&D sort of school) that catered to kids with multiple issues, including giftedness... Unfortunately, there were only 2 spots in his grade and more than 50 applicants... Coupled with a move to a new campus, an extra 25 spots opened up so my son got in. He's now in his second year there and this program has made a huge difference in his life... His first day at his new school, he came home and said "Mom! I've met my people!" ... He has a ton of friends at school, and is beginning to understand how his brain is wired... His teachers are giving him very successful coping strategies, and have imparted terrific insights to us about how to help him be successful... This has changed the trajectory of his life...

    I can't imagine where we'd be were it not for this school... If we had been denied entrance, I dread think what state he'd be in...

    I feel for the parents of these 4700 children, many of whom will not get the help they need...

    • by nedlohs (1335013) on Saturday April 20, 2013 @09:20AM (#43503151)

      I feel for the parents of these 4700 children, many of whom will not get the help they need...

      Sorry, if a 15 days birth date error on your birth certificate would change you from "gifted" to "not gifted" then clearly it's a complete farce and there's no "help they need".

      • by hedwards (940851)

        Precisely. Sounds like they need to go back and review their methodology. And probably put off the assessment until later on.

        I remember going through something similar as a child. Most of my friends had birthdays in the spring and summer, which meant that on these screenings they required a lower score in order to qualify, even though they had the same amount of time in class as I did. Consequently I think 2 of the 5 got into the gifted program and I didn't. But, the kicker is that as an adult, I'm so far a

        • by Rich0 (548339)

          Precisely. Sounds like they need to go back and review their methodology. And probably put off the assessment until later on.

          The issue here is that no matter where you draw the line, and how you draw the line, there are thousands of determinations that would change if you moved the line even the tiniest bit in either direction.

          They were calculating to the month, and not to the day. Now they're calculating to the day, and not to the hour - I bet that affects quite a few determinations. Then we draw the line at 97%, and not 98%, or 96%, or 97.1%.

          The label "gifted" in many states really just means "individualized" - some part of t

        • by Aranykai (1053846)

          I was in the same situation. My birthday being in september put me just past the cutoff time for almost all of the programs in my district so I ended up getting lumped into the groups the year following most of my fellow classmates. Thankfully that didn't seem to matter towards high school so it didn't interfere with AP courses etc...

      • But perhaps another 5000+ places for gifted kids wouldn't be a bad idea. (Though it might be somewhat expensive.)
    • by Pionar (620916)

      Your son's story reminds me a lot of myself as a kid. Very similar, except we didn't have charter schools back when I was a kid.

      Good luck to your son!

    • by bryan1945 (301828)

      nblender- I'm happy for you and your family.

  • How Gifted? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Flozzin (626330) on Saturday April 20, 2013 @09:25AM (#43503159)
    I find it hard to believe that a few days in the year change a child from gifted to ungifted. If it does, then these kids are on the extremely low end of gifted, and after a year they will even out with the rest of the kids their age. There was an /. article a while ago discussing how the gifted kids, that you see go to college at the age of 14 generally even out when they hit their twenties. Super geniuses are extremely rare. What normally happens is these kids are smarter than their peers, but not any smarter than your average adult. So they fly through highschool and college and end up at the same place everyone else does, just sooner.
    • by MaWeiTao (908546)

      It's not that the program itself creates gifted children. It's that it separate those kids from the under-performing ones and puts them in an environment where everyone is more invested in education. I'm convinced that the most critical component are the parents. If they care enough to push their students then the kids are more likely to perform well. A gift program that specifically requires an application process is the ideal arrangement because only parents who are invested are going to invest the effort

    • To do well, it takes more than 'gifted,' it takes hard work. Even for someone like Mozart.
  • One of the parents was a statistician. That's too funny for words.
  • Look for a profit motive, right? Multiply the number of students by the profit they stood to make off of each student so classified. Someone close enough with enough knowledge of the processes and consequences of being misclassified to put these two things together has to do this.

    Just the idea that you'd let a company like this supply AND measure students is a BIG mistake. If there's a chance to screw with the collection and/or processing of the data and one road takes you to greater profit and the other

  • They tested X children. The 10% that performed best were awarded with the stamp "gifted". The 3% that performed best were awarded with the stamp "especially gifted". If they now give 4700 children more the stamp "gifted", they will have more than 10% of the children with a stamp stating they belong to the top 10%. That can't be right, so the current results aren't wrong. I'm sure every school wants all of their children to perform "better than average", but in reality, if they all perform better, the averag
  • Statistics is the art of lying to yourself that you understand what should happen! The problem with statistics is that in general you just ignore mass amounts of data to try and prove a point, it would be like measuring a system and throwing out any strange readings. There is a much better system already in place that deals with the problem in statistics and that is to just measure or record the results of a finite population and only release results about that and only that population. You'll have the
  • standardized testing can passover people who are smart but are not good at taking tests.

  • When I as a kid I got kicked out of the Gifted programs for lack of funding. There were only 9 of us that bothered and that wasn't deemed enough to pay for our teacher.
  • The real silliness is that educational opportunities are assigned by some central authority. We need much more of a free market in education. Give vouchers to people who can't afford it, but let parents make choices for their kids and let schools specialize in lots of different kinds of kids and programs as parents demand.

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